The Curious Case of r/Cringetopia: An investigation into the dynamics of cringe, community, and reddit
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This thesis utilizes a playful “murder-mystery” writing style to academically examine the “death” of a subreddit dedicated to cringe content, r/cringetopia, through the power dynamics of cringe, community, and platform. As these dynamics are considered as media elements involved in facilitating an individual to go down the “alt-right pipeline”, a journey which results in problematic radicalisation, their disruption in a comparatively innocuous research object like r/cringetopia provides ample opportunity for their examination. Each dynamic in question has its own independent theoretical background and process by which it produces certain norms, and through examining the dynamics through the subreddit’s demise, it sheds light on how the play and interplay between them emerges. To accommodate for the notion of productive power involved, a multimodal discourse analysis was selected as the methodology to examine how the dynamics constituted and were constituted by how reddit, community and cringe content were implicated throughout r/Cringetopia’s downfall. The outcome of the analysis revealed that in this instance, the dynamics between community and platform were tightly interwoven together in characterising the downfall, while the dynamic of cringe worked relatively independently due to the construction of its dynamic. Reflecting on the outcome of this thesis provides a further understanding of these dynamics separately and together and carves out space for future research.